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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 126729 Find in a Library
Title: Judicial Fashioning of Remedies for Unconstitutional Overcrowding of Jails and Prisons
Author(s): J E Call; R B Cole
Date Published: Unknown
Page Count: 37
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Survey
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Two particular Supreme Court cases, "Bell v. Wolfish," (1979) and "Rhodes v. Chapman" (1981) slowed down a trend begun in the 1960's, in which Federal courts, for the first time, interfered with the administration of State prisons with regard to overcrowding, which was deemed unconstitutional. However, as a result of these two cases, courts now regularly issue remedial decrees, ordering correctional authorities to correct these constitutional shortcomings.
Abstract: The most popular remedy used by the courts is to set a population ceiling which will not reach the level of "cruel and unusual punishment." Limits can be set for the entire facility or on a unit-by-unit or cell-by-cell basis. Another type of remedy focuses on cell occupancy and size; although the Supreme Court did not find double-bunking to be unconstitutional per se, courts have found the practice to be so under particular circumstances. Courts may take remedial action in the form of removal of State prisoners from local jails, closure of an institution, or fines against the State. The courts often order the correctional authorities to undergo other construction; the courts retain jurisdiction over the implementation of any of these decrees. In coming to their decisions, the courts consider the record of evidence concerning the institution, specific factors in the case, the relief requested by plaintiff, and the role of the parties in carrying out the decree. Appellate courts have upheld the remedies imposed by Federal district courts in a slight majority of cases, but have not established a pattern predicting their likely reactions to future remedies. The future of remedial decrees probably rests on three developments: the implication that new construction will alleviate overcrowding, court tendencies to become more intrusive and allow the parties less flexibility, and a recent Supreme Court decision upholding the right of a district court to order a tax increase to finance court-ordered desegregation which could apply equally to prison overcrowding cases. 84 notes and 10 references
Main Term(s): Court ordered institutional reform; Prison overcrowding
Index Term(s): Cruel and unusual punishment; Judicial activism; US Supreme Court decisions
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